Book on Sri Lankan Crisis Launched in Canada

Sri Lankan Ethnic Crisis: Towards a Resolution

By R. B. Herath

A ceremonial book launching took place at the Guildford Library building in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, on Sunday, 15 December 2002. At this ceremony R. B. Herath, a Sri Lankan expatriate living in Canada, launched and presented his new book, Sri Lankan Ethnic Crisis: Towards a Resolution, amidst a hall full of enthusiastic participants. Two Buddhist monks, Venerable Kumbalgoda Siriniwasa and Venerable Mirisse Dhammika, resident monks of the Surrey Buddhist Vihara, were present among the participants. The other guests included Mr. Gurmant Grewal, Member of Parliament for Surrey Central, and Professor Hari Sharma and Dr. Chin Banerjee, the President and Vice-President of the South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy (SANSAD). Professor Hari Sharma is also the President of the International South Asian Forum in North America.

In her welcome speech of this book launching ceremony, Anoja Herath, one of the daughters of R. B. Herath, said, “It is great to see people from all the major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka here today. I think, it is an expression of completeness of the presence of the entire Sri Lankan Family here to celebrate a new book that addresses the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka with a way to resolve it. In my own opinion, it also gives some strength to the concept of ‘One Lanka – One Family,’ my father has been talking about all his life.”

After the welcome speech, Dr. Sarath Abeykoon, Sam Samarakoon, and Ajitha Sivananthan read three initial book reviews. These reviews were from Tilak Fernando, a freelance journalist and London Corespondent for English newspapers in Sri Lanka, Asoka Weerasinghe, Former Chairperson, “Project Peace for a United Sri Lanka,” Ottawa, and Dr. Jayadeva Uyangoda, Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science and Public Policy, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The reading of the reviews was followed by felicitations by Shamina Senaratne, another Canadian writer of Sri Lankan origin, Dr. Rex Casinader, a Sri Lankan expatriate and Professor of Urban Studies, University of British Columbia, Neil Turner, a colleague of R. B. Herath at work, Land and Water British Columbia, Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, Professor Hari Sharma, and Mr. Gurmant Grewal.

After the felicitations, the book was officially launched by the lighting of a Sri Lankan traditional oil lamp amidst Magul Bera, traditional ceremonial Sri Lankan drum beat, by a group of Canadians of Sri Lankan origin representing all the major ethnic and religious groups in Sri Lanka: Sinhalese, Tamils, Moors, Malays, and Burghers. This was followed by the lighting of a second oil lamp by those who helped R. B. Herath write the new book. After that, R. B. Herath gave a detailed presentation on his new book.

In his presentation, R. B. Herath said, “My new book examines the current Sri Lankan ethnic crisis in detail and suggests a new model of governance for Sri Lanka as a way to end the crisis and make Sri Lanka one of the best democracies in the modern world.” He also added, “I do not believe that Sri Lanka should just copy the governing system of any one particular country, Canada, Switzerland or any other as some seem to suggest. There is no doubt that Sri Lankans can learn a lot from the governing systems of these countries. However, one has to bear in mind that their governing systems have been designed to address their own situations, and are not without weaknesses. They too need to improve further. I have taken both the strengths and weaknesses of the systems of these and other countries and, indeed, the shortcomings of the present Sri Lankan system into very careful consideration, and designed the new model for Sri Lanka, based on the specific needs and aspirations of all its ethnic groups.”

He further said, “I must say very clearly that my sense of appreciation of all the great things in Sri Lanka is not second to any one else’s on this planet. The purpose of this book was not to dwell into those great things, which obviously do not need to be changed, but to identify and analyze what is going wrong there, that need to be and have to be changed. You will agree that if there is no change, there is no improvement. Improvements come about only if we change the way we are organized and do things. This is true whether it is our home, Friendship or any other association, or the country. So, if Sri Lankans want to make their country a better place to live, they must have the nerve to stand up for change. I think, I have done my little part in this regard by writing this book, and wish all Sri Lankans will have the courage and wisdom to join in hands to improve their country.”

He ended his book presentation by saying, “I am an author with a dream. It is a dream where all Sri Lankans live and work together just as one family, enjoying equal rights, freedoms and opportunities, in one of the greatest democracies in the world. It is a dream I had when I was young. It is a dream I still have. It is a dream I like to see come true before I die.”

Immediately after the formal launching of the new book, R. B. Herath, presented its first copy to Punya Sahabandu, a well known elder in the Sri Lankan expatriate community in British Columbia, Canada, in a symbolic gesture, as a dedication of the book to the author’s parents, grandparents, and teachers. He specifically mentioned the names of three of his teachers who had great influence in his bringing up in Sri Lanka. The first teacher he mentioned was Venerable Ambanpola Rathanasara, his teacher at his village Sunday school. Then, he mentioned the names of Charles Dambadeniya, his teacher at his elementary school, Aluthgama Vidyalaya, and S. Ratnasabapathy, his teacher and principal at his secondary school, Matale Science College, who finally retired as the Principal of Hartley College, Jaffna.

R. B. Herath’s wife, Hemamali, and youngest daughter, Lucky, jointly delivered a vote of thanks. Book signing began after the vote of thanks. Henry Subasinghe, a Sri Lankan expatriate community leader in North America and the Founder-President of the Sri Lankan Friendship Association in British Columbia, Canada was the Master of Ceremonies of this book launching ceremony. R. B. Herath can be contacted by telephone at 604-597-1920 or by email at info@rbherath.com.

Please take the time to view the pictures from this event.

For those of you interested, a copy of the speech given by R.B. Herath has also been provided.

For more information email: info@rbherath.com

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